Retro Game Challenge takes us back

Everything was better in the past. There, we said it. Maybe that makes us rapidly aging and overly nostalgic twentysomethings, but old games were great. As much as we enjoy new games today, nothing will ever feel as great as the first game we got for our birthday a million years ago. Thank the lord of retro gaming that our prayers have been answered with the virtual time machine/videogame Retro Game Challenge.

Earlier this year, we would’ve bet good money we'd never see this game stateside, much as we’d like to. Originally titled Game Center CX in its native Japan, it's based on a TV show of the same name. It stars the lovable (but not particularly gifted) Arino, who along with his guests tries to beat difficult trials in the blisteringly tough games of the past.

Above: A normal evening on the set of Game Center CX

Now, against all odds, this small title based on a Japanese TV show is coming to the US. It replicates the show to a degree, with Arino's disembodied head shouting out tasks he wants you to perform in the games he gives you. All the games have classic NES graphics, but instead of a collection of games you already played in your youth, you’re given brand new games that just look ancient.

When the adventure begins, you are turned into a child and are sent to the past, specifically 1985 through 1989. You’ll spend those years in young Arino's living room, playing through all the "latest" games. The first one he buys is Cosmic Gate, which to all but the clueless is a very obvious and loving tribute to Galaga. Not too much of a stretch, since RGC was developed by Galaga’s parents, Namco.

But because you have to beat specific challenges rather thanjust complete the games, you may need some help. Since the game takes place before the wonders ofinternet cheats, you instead read through manuals and magazines Arino owns that help you out. And they aren’t just filled with tips, either. They have previews of games you'll play later, reviews of current games, and even inside jokes for fans of videogames journalists.

Once we wrapped up Cosmic Gate, we played a creative platformer known as Haggle Man, and a fun, decidedly old-school off-road racer. The game even promises a legitimately epic Dragon Quest homage called Guardia Quest. We wish we could tell you about how it played, but it keeps getting delayed (in-game, of course). Still, as an inventive compilation title from some alternate timeline, Retro Game Challenge is set to offer old-school gamers a great time. We can't wait to see this in its final version when it comes out in January. Until then, we'll be dreaming of Haggle Man 2.

Dec 2, 2008

Henry Gilbert

Henry Gilbert is a former GamesRadar+ Editor, having spent seven years at the site helping to navigate our readers through the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation. Henry is now following another passion of his besides video games, working as the producer and podcast cohost of the popular Talking Simpsons and What a Cartoon podcasts.